Business technology continues to evolve so quickly that complaining about it has become a cliché. Although many small-business owners appreciate how much IT has improved efficiency within their organizations, they’re understandably anxious about keeping up with the times. The latest and greatest technology solution isn’t always the answer to your problems, but communication apps and platforms are investments that almost always pay for themselves.
Related article: Important considerations before implementing new business technology
Your employees and customers are constantly experimenting with new ways to share messages, audio files, and videos. If you don’t adapt to their preferred communication channels, you could be leaving money on the table. Ask yourself how well your business caters to these trends:
- 89% of customers get frustrated when they need to repeat their issues to multiple representatives;
- 95% have reported poor customer service while using a mobile device;
- 75% believe it takes too long to reach a live agent; and
- 62% said that representatives’ knowledge or resourcefulness is a critical factor during a support request.
Those data points may not seem shocking, but they’re great indicators of where you should invest your technology budget.
Customer relationship management (CRM)
With the right IT solutions, every person on your team should have access to a documented history of a customer’s interaction with your company. This often comes in the form of CRM software, which logs things like when and why someone contacted your team as well as what channel they used to contact you.
Related article: What to do with the customer data you’ve collected
Any of your employees can simply type in a customer’s name, phone number, or email address to see all of the messages, calls, invoices, and whatever else he or she provided to your team. CRM installed and supported by IT experts ensures the people who reach out to your organization will never have to repeat information more than once.
Unified communications (UC)
Internet-based — or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) — phones have been the norm in the business community for over a decade. Over the years, the benefits of this technology have extended beyond lower calling rates and enhanced scalability; VoIP has simplified how users make and receive phone calls. Unified communications IT makes it easy for your team to increase its mobility without sacrificing its availability.
Related article: Current VoIP features that SMBs shouldn’t ignore
UC comes in the form of an app that integrates several channels into one. For example, one of its many features is to send calls to multiple devices simultaneously to ensure they’re answered as quickly as possible. If a customer calls a support representative who doesn’t have a phone but is sitting in front of a laptop, the call is routed through the laptop. You can also ring multiple phone numbers simultaneously, which allows other employees to pick up the line if the intended recipient isn’t immediately available.
Intranets and knowledge bases
Despite the advent of cloud storage and the ability to access data from almost any internet-connected device, many companies still struggle with getting the right information to the right people. Intranets — such as Office 365’s SharePoint — are built from the ground up to make it dead simple to unearth relevant data in internal knowledge bases.
Although saving files within structured folders and subfolders is great for the user who created them, it’s extremely inefficient for collaborators who are less familiar with how everything is organized. Many modern intranets have replaced this system with intelligent search functions. A string of categorical data (e.g., “Acme, Inc. invoice July 2018”) will display relevant documents even if none of those keywords appear in the title or body of the document. Employees find answers quicker and customers stay happier.
Solutions for daily IT problems
If your SMB has an in-house technician, you can probably handle implementing a few of these solutions without much trouble. You might even get by for a period without full-time help. However, the lack of proper attention means you won’t get a full return on your investment in the short term and could risk your business’s future if you don’t make upgrades down the line.
Related article: What happens when you fall behind on technology
Online Computers and Communications helps small businesses in Hanover, Morristown, and Madison reach their full potential. Our number one focus is developing sustainable and dependable client relationships. If you’re looking for an IT partner that will be with you for the long haul, give us a call today.
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